During my years at big corporations I participated and contributed in several strategy preparations. In the process of making there was typically a “head of strategy” leading the strategy work and it took months to finalise. Once the slide set was ready it was barely explained to the leadership team and team leaders who were supposed to implement the strategy. The small preparation team ran out of steam and the company continued as before.Sure, the strategy prep team tried their best to gather the data different ways. They had meetings, interviews, xls analysis, paid reports or even used consultants. But I do not remember any strategy preparation where the head of strategy would have asked the opinions of the big population - the employees. I do not even remember that the team leaders would have been engaged to large extent. And this is the problem where most strategies fail.
What if you would create your strategy differently by engaging your employees, your customers and especially those that are going to implement the strategy - your team leaders?
Instead of creating your own “strategy jargon” that nobody else really understands, you would put yourself into the boots of a normal employee and try to come up with questions that might be relevant from their point of view. If you would get answers to those questions that are relevant for them to be better in their work, do you think it would make your strategy more engaging and also the implementation phase smoother?
Did you know that your employees are gems? They are your beacons with tons of gathered knowledge. You do not necessarily need to buy a Gartner report, the strategically important information might loom much closer.
During the strategy work, what if you would ask from your employees questions like:
- What do you think our customers would like to have in 3 years?
- How do you see our business environment changing in coming 5 years?
- In your opinion, what are our competitive advantages?
- What should we improve the most?
Do you think the answers would help you to make a better strategy?
I would bet my money to answer yes. And not only a better strategy, but a strategy that has a chance to be implemented. As you engage your stakeholders early in such an important process you will see far less resistance. By giving your stakeholders an opportunity to influence you will see improved motivation to implement and redirect. When you have exposed the employees to the themes and topics of the new strategy early on, it is much easier to start the execution phase. You do not need to start the education process from the scratch.
If you wish to be better in your strategy work, my advice to you is to engage those people that matter to you as early as possible. Get rid of strategy jargon and ask them relevant and interesting questions, seriously. Give them feedback and explain how the process is ongoing and it pays off when all the energy has left the prep team.
Lets create a common view on the elements of a good strategy. You can participate by entering in the co-creation arena and providing your so valuable input. Thank you !